Thursday, April 02, 2009

"And In The End" - E.R., episode 15.22

A few words on the subject of ER, the cornerstone of NBC's Thursday night lineup for a decade and a half and the late Michael Crichton's greatest contribution to pop culture.

When a show has been around as long and gone through as many iterations as ER there's no way to really do a series finale that can encompass everything the show has meant to fans. I liked the much-hyped tactic of bringing back old cast members for a final bow all season long (I haven't watched the show regularly in years), but for the two-hour finale writer John Wells made the smartest choice.

"And In The End" salutes the strengths of classic ER. There's an acknowledgment of the impossible hours the ER staff works, with an homage to the iconic moment from the pilot where Anthony Edwards is awakened by a nurse and a callback to George Clooney's "When did it stop raining?" line. Of course it wouldn't be ER without a doctor reassuring a younger doctor in crisis; here the young doctor is played by Alexis Bledel - doesn't it seem entirely plausible that Rory Gilmore would become a doctor? Finally, the show derives some of its greatest drama from the beginning and the end of life as a mother delivering twins goes into crisis and a elderly man (Ernest Borgnine) facing the loss of his wife.

I could have done without the flabby scenes of Carter, Benton, Lewis, and Weaver sitting around reminiscing and the meaning of the whole Carter-Thandie Newton relationship was largely lost on me, but as the one-hour look back special pointed out a constant theme of the show has been the relationship between teacher and student. How fitting then that the last teaching scene is between Carter and Rachel Greene (Hallee Hirsh), the now-grown daughter of Anthony Edwards's Mark Greene who now seems destined for a career in medicine. ER may be coming to a close, but the finale makes clear that for these characters the work will go on.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A New Set of Downs

It's two more 13-episode seasons for Friday Night Lights....

Good news for one of the few shows anyone likes on NBC, and I hope Life gets the same treatment and a time slot not opposite Lost. As for FNL, does this mean we'll follow Smash, Tim, Jason, Matt, etc. into their college years or will the show attempt to develop new Dillon Panthers as its leads? (I guess if you've seen the season on Direct TV you already know how that redistricting thing turns out, not to mention the state championship) I'd particularly miss Taylor Kitsch as Tim; Kitsch has been so good this season I'm almost looking forward to seeing that Wolverine movie he's in. (LA Times)


Monday, March 30, 2009

"The Remains Of The J" - Gossip Girl, episode 2.20

After the craziness of the last two weeks "The Remains of The J" felt like a step backward, a return to the themes of Season 1. Yes there was plenty of romantic intrigue and two new couples got together (for the moment), but the story of Jenny's mixed-up Sweet 16 party was a distraction from the main event.

Surprise! It's Jenny's 16th birthday and over breakfast at the VDW's place (that's how Jenny abbreviated Van Der Woodsen on Gossip Girl) Lily and Serena reveal their plan for an old-fashioned East Side catered swankfest for J's big night. It looks like that New York's youngest fashion designer is so over the Manhattan social whirl; she just wants an evening of family, board games, and home cooking. Sounds good, right? No one gets in trouble and the Humphrey and VDW clans can bond. They had better like each other, because Dan has been rejected for financial aid at Yale and Rufus is considering selling the loft in order to pay the tuition bill. Like any series with a large cast, GG's characters tend to alternate between taking center stage and receding into the background and while it was about time for Jenny to get off the bench again I much prefer Jenny as the hungry fashionista than they stay-at-home teen. There isn't really room for quit kids on GG, is there?

A chance encounter with her old running buddy Poppy brings up some old social issues for Serena? Is she the social queen of New York or the girl who likes keeping it real with the Humphrey's in Brooklyn? We'd kind of left that behind since earlier this season, as Serena plays second fiddle to Blair's college angst and the whole Jenny as Guerrilla Fashion Designer thing. Poppy's tales of handsome boyfriend and trips to Spain give Serena some old longings; she reboots the birthday party as a launching pad for a social renaissance. When Jenny and Dan show up at the VDW's with board games and chili in tow Jenny finds exactly the kind of party she didn't want. In retaliation Jenny posts the party on Gossip Girl and turns it into a sort of MTV Spring Break East 70's. The resulting damage to Lily's apartment leads to Serena's being unfairly blamed and heading off for Spain with Poppy and boyfriend. All very entertaining, but I'm way past caring about Serena's identity crisis. If the show winds up following her to Brown it's there where the big changes will come.

What to say about Blair-Nate And Chuck-Vanessa, the two rival couplings this week? Neither felt authentic to me, but Blair and Nate scenes at least brought out some warmth in Leighton Meester that we haven't seen in awhile. I'll give this plot another episode before I pass final judgment. "The Remains of The J" had little new to offer.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

TV on the Internet, Episode 2: They Fumbled Less Balls This Time

TV on the Internet's second episode is here, and we're hopeful we aren't so breathe-y this week (actually, we know we aren't, but now we might be too quiet, which is an entirely different issue altogether). As always, we appreciate your critiques and comments in the comments, so let us know what you think, and be honest.

We're available on iTunes, finally, if that's how you'd like to get the show, or you can check us out at Podcast Alley, Podcast Pickle or the TV on the Internet libsyn page.

This week, we talk about ER, argue about 30 Rock and discuss my everlasting affection for Amanda Bynes. Full details after the jump.

TV on the Internet, Episode 2: They Fumbled Less Balls This Time

Here's a direct link to the episode.

Time codes follow. There are MAJOR SPOILERS for a variety of shows, so you may want to skip over a segment if you haven't watched the shows discussed therein.


00:00.00-00:01.41: Introductions and music from The Alrights
00:01.42-00:13.08: The week's headlines (some small spoilers for Friday Night Lights, season four casting).
00:13.09-00:28.33: Our farewell to ER. ER spoilers throughout, but, c'mon, it all aired over a decade ago.
00:28.34-00:42.23: The Big Debate: Is 30 Rock as good as everyone says it is? Todd says not quite; Libby says it is. (30 Rock spoilers throughout.)
00:42.24-01:06.49: Discussing the week in television. (Includes spoilers for Party Down, Breaking Bad, Big Love, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, Heroes, Kings, Dollhouse and Grey's Anatomy. If you guys want more detailed time breakdowns for this segment in the weeks to come, just ask.)
01:06.50-01:13.55: The classic TV on DVD pick of the week, a preview of the week to come and the wrap-up

Five minutes shorter! Woo!

Headline Links:

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, RENEWED! Friday Night Lights Will Return (AV Club with link to spoiler-y Michael Ausiello report at Entertainment Weekly)
Roseanne Barr Eyes Return to Primetime (The Hollywood Reporter)
Amanda Bynes Gets Canned (E! Online)
Disney, Hulu Restart Talks Over ABC Shows (Reuters)
Discovery Falls for Pitchmen (Variety)

The song this week is "Get Ready for Love" by The Alrights. Again, the full album is worth a download on iTunes.

Clips are from Friday Night Lights (episode: "Pilot," script by Peter Berg), ER (episode: "Pilot," script by Michael Crichton), 30 Rock (episode: "Apollo, Apollo," script by Robert Carlock), Party Down (episode: "Willow Canyon Homeowners' Annual Party," script by John Enbom & Dan Etheridge & Paul Rudd & Rob Thomas), Big Love (episode: "Sacrament," script by Victoria Morrow from a story by Coleman Herbert) and Roseanne (episode: "Little Sister," script by Joss Whedon).


(We'll post 'em as you make 'em.)

A Podcast Recommendation:

We love us some Myles McNutt here at the SDD, since he used to write here and all, and his "McNuttCast" is worth a listen. Apparently, he has a brother? Who knew!